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Despite a delayed start due to thunderstorms, Blue Origin successfully launched its reusable rocket, New Shepard. Not only did the rocket lift off and launch, but the passenger carrying capsule also landed safely on the ground.
Touchdown of the New Shepard Booster and Crew Capsule! Congrats to Team Blue and our payload customers on board today!— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) April 29, 2018
The Jeff Bezos-operated company launched at 1:07 EST from its launch pad in Texas. This particular launch marked the eighth of its kind for the New Shepard rocket.
The ultimate goal for Blue Origin was to bring tourists close to space and become the leader of the private space industry as it grows and evolves. With the launch was a commercial payload and also "Mannequin Skywalker" in the passenger's chair.
Mannequin Skywalker is ready for his 2nd mission on board New Shepard. He’s a little sensitive about being called a “dummy”, as he will be conducting astronaut telemetry and science studies – a very important job! pic.twitter.com/h2ncpGWaTi
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) April 28, 2018
The capsule carried over half a dozen experiments all benefitting from the changes in microgravity while the capsule freefell. These experiments included tests regarding wi-fi and life-support technologies that would be used in space missions -- even for those used in democratizing space travel.
The rocket hit its altitude goal of 350,000 feet, a much higher than the normal altitude than what the company typically aims for, according to the commentator.
Earlier last week, Bezos gave an interview with Business Insider's CEO Axel Springer, calling Blue Origin "the most important work that I'm doing." Bezos -- who officially became the world's wealthiest man earlier this year -- plans on putting humans into the rockets for flight testing at the end of 2018 or possibly the start of 2019.
"Take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System," Bezos said. "The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That's the world that I want my great-grandchildren's great-grandchildren to live in."
In the meantime, Bezos has said in previous interviews that he wants to sell a billion dollars in Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin and that he would do this each year. Throughout the livestream, viewers were reminded of Blue Origin's ultimate goal: The democratization of space tourism and making it affordable, sustainable, and enjoyable.
Thanks to the efforts of Bezos's Blue Origin team and Elon Musk's competing SpaceX endeavors, the emphasis on reusability could change how the public and investors see the potential for space tourism.
“Until recently, a big bottleneck for commercial space was simply launch capacity,” said Scott Nolan, a partner at Founder’s Fund, an early investor in the company, in an interview with Quartz. “SpaceX’s now proven reusability will dramatically reduce launch costs and meaningfully increase both global launch capacity and frequency. We believe this shift will enable new businesses across a number of applications, and in the process unleash the next wave of space investors.”